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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Assistants in San Diego, California

San Diego, California provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for dental assistants. There are currently 41,600 jobs for dental assistants in California and this is projected to grow 35% to 56,100 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for dental assistants are expected to grow by about 35.8%. In general, dental assistants assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

Dental assistants earn approximately $15 per hour or $32,260 annually on average in California. Nationally they average about $15 per hour or $32,380 yearly. Incomes for dental assistants are better than in the overall category of Medical and Dental Assistance in California, and better than the overall Medical and Dental Assistance category nationally. People working as dental assistants can fill a number of jobs, such as: surgical dental assistant, dental aide, and dentist attendant.

There are five schools within twenty-five miles of San Diego where you can study to be a dental assistant, among sixty schools of higher education total in the San Diego area. The most common level of education for dental assistants is a post-secondary certificate. You can expect to spend a short time training to become a dental assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, dental assistants assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

Dental assistants ready patients, sterilize and disinfect instruments, prepare instrument trays and assist dentists during dental procedures. They also expose dental diagnostic x-rays. Equally important, dental assistants have to provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentists. They are often called upon to pour and polish study casts. They are expected to record treatment data in patient archives. Finally, dental assistants order and monitor dental supplies and apparatus inventory.

Every day, dental assistants are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for dental assistants to take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients. They are often called upon to instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs. They also clean and polish removable appliances. They are sometimes expected to schedule appointments, ready bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer. Somewhat less frequently, dental assistants are also expected to apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.

and make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts. And finally, they sometimes have to clean and polish removable appliances.

Like many other jobs, dental assistants must have a strong concern for others and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Diego include:

  • Medical Assistant. Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.
  • Medical Equipment Technician. Prepare, sterilize, or clean laboratory or healthcare equipment. May perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment.
  • Psychiatric Aide. Assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Dental Assistant Training

Valley Career College - El Cajon, CA

Valley Career College, 878 Jackman St, El Cajon, CA 92020-3057. Valley Career College is a small college located in El Cajon, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 310 students and an admission rate of 78%. Valley Career College has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated thirty-four students in 2008.

Palomar College - San Marcos, CA

Palomar College, 1140 W. Mission, San Marcos, CA 92069-1487. Palomar College is a large college located in San Marcos, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 28,093 students. Palomar College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twenty-three, six, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Pima Medical Institute - Chula Vista, CA

Pima Medical Institute, 780 Bay Blvd Suite101, Chula Vista, CA 91910. Pima Medical Institute is a small school located in Chula Vista, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 853 students. Pima Medical Institute has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated sixty-one students in 2008.

Concorde Career Colleges - San Diego, CA

Concorde Career Colleges, 4393 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113-1964. Concorde Career Colleges is a small college located in San Diego, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 607 students and an admission rate of 100%. Concorde Career Colleges has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated seventy-five students in 2008.

San Diego Mesa College - San Diego, CA

San Diego Mesa College, 7250 Mesa College Dr, San Diego, CA 92111-4998. San Diego Mesa College is a large college located in San Diego, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 21,460 students. San Diego Mesa College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated fifteen and three students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Associate Fellow: Your Associate Fellow certificate lets your patients know that you are an experienced, credentialed implant professional.

For more information, see the American Academy of Implant Dentistry website.

Registered Dental Assistant: A Dental Assistant is an integral member of the dental health team, competent via education, experience, and understanding of patient welfare.

For more information, see the American Medical Technologists website.

Certified Othodontic Assistant: The COA examination in Orthodontic Assisting was added in 1986 to offer credentialing for assistants specializing in orthodontic assisting procedures.

For more information, see the Dental Assisting National Board website.

Certified Dental Technician: Certification is the process of assessing a dental technician's knowledge and applied skill level necessary to perform the tasks required of a dental technician.

For more information, see the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology website.

LICENSES

Dental Assistant - Registered

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

Extended Functions - Dental Auxiliaries (Dental Assistant)

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice (RDHAP)

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Diego, California

San Diego, California
San Diego, California photo by FlickreviewR

San Diego is situated in San Diego County, California. It has a population of over 1,279,329, which has grown by 4.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in San Diego, 141, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Diego are valued at $323,700 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, six hundred forty-one new homes were constructed in San Diego, down from seven hundred forty-eight the previous year.

The three big industries for women in San Diego are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 35.0% of San Diego residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in San Diego is 10.5%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of San Diego residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Penasquitos Nazarene Church, Peace Lutheran Church and Paul E Kidd African Methodist Episcopal Church are some of the churches located in San Diego. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

San Diego is home to the Zlac Rowing Club and the Rancho Los Penasquitos Golf Course as well as Adobe Bluffs Park and John F Kennedy Park. Shopping malls in the area include San Diego Factory Outlet Shopping Center, San Carlos Shopping Center and Montgomery Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to San Diego can choose from Best Western Posada at the Yac, Beachfront San Diego and Banana Bungalow Hostel San Diego for temporary stays in the area.